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daniellclausen

The Lexical Funk!

Daniel has wanted to be a writer ever since he was in elementary school.He has published stories and articles in such magazines as Slipstream, Black Petals, Spindrift, Zygote in my Coffee, and Leading Edge Science Fiction. He has written four books: The Sage and the Scarecrow (a novel), the Lexical Funk (a short story collection), Reejecttion (short story/ essay collection), and The Ghosts of Nagasaki (a novel).

Review of Outliers

Outliers: The Story of SuccessOutliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It would be easy to fetishize individual greatness and success, but to do so would be a lie. Gladwell takes this simple point and broadens and deepens it with fantastic story-telling.

It would be easy to give this book a five-star rating -- but I hesitate to do so. One of the reasons I hesitate is because I've been been duped before.

When I was first learning about international affairs, I loved the work of Thomas Friedman. I thought he had a fantastic gift for story-telling and was a very astute observer of international trends. I still do think Friedman is an excellent journalist and popular nonfiction writer; however, as I read more deeply in International Relations, I learned that Thomas Friedman was actually popularizing research that had already been in circulation for a long time that was much richer and more fantastic than he admitted (especially in the International Relations subfield of complex interdependence and other IPE literature). On top of that, Friedman had the nerve to suggest that hedge fund managers were the most insightful observers of international affairs -- an insult that discards the very richness of the literary well that he draws from.

For this reason, I have my suspicions about Gladwell's work. Surely, it's better for journalists to be aware of academic work than not to be aware of it. And it is certainly a virtue for work-a-day journalists to read broadly and think through problems like philosophers. But, I worry that like Friedman much of Gladwell's work may just be a popular nonfiction take of even deeper works on the same subject field. In addition, I also worry about the "value-added" of his work -- in other words, whether his work contributes something really new to the debate or whether he is just communicating several loosely connected points that were already available in the research. Like Friedman's work, I worry that what I'm reading -- though an entertaining and coherent story -- may be somewhat "old hat".

Since I'm not a specialist on human development and learning, I can't make this judgment. But what I can say is that the book was a fantastic read (and a pretty quick one too!).



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